He Zhou put that one inch photo back into the graduation album, which he returned to the bookshelf.
He had mostly calmed down at this point.
He wasn’t the impulsive and irritable He Zhou who had dragged Qiu Yanzhi all the way from the corridor to the bathroom and used cold water to sober him up just because Qiu Yanzhi said he liked him because he looked like Qin He anymore.
Objectively speaking, he was now very self-aware.
He Zhou remembered his time being hung on top of a tall building. He had reached up, untied the rope around his left wrist, and fell down to the ground.
He looked into the camera just before and said: Qiu Yanzhi, you need to get out.
If time wasn’t of the essence back then, he might’ve acted like the second male lead in all the TV dramas and said a long-winded and lengthy line before falling.
To be honest, he already thought about what he’d say.
Probably something like: Qiu Yanzhi, you need to get out of this chaotic and fictional world and back to the real world.
You should fall in love with a real person and live a real life there.
He had already decided then to let go, to erase himself from Qiu Yanzhi's future.
Yet he somehow miraculously left the game as well.
Him being able to come to the ‘real’ world where Qiu Yanzhi lived made He Zhou a little too happy.
Plus Qiu Yanzhi’s been so good towards him lately.
In the end, He Zhou forgot who he was for a moment.
When Qiu Yanzhi kissed him and said he was going to get him an ID card with affectionate eyes, that they were going to leave this place and start anew somewhere else…
It almost made He Zhou mistake their affection as mutual, that they were a pair of lovers who would grow old together.
That photo of Qin He snapped him back to reality.
--Even if he left the game, he was still just a NPC, one who looked extremely similar to the person Qiu Yanzhi liked.
“The project’s ready. Let’s go watch that movie.”
Qiu Yanzhi walked over and embraced He Zhou from behind. His voice was a bit muted. “I also ordered some fried chicken just now. We can eat that during the movie.”
Should I let go?
He Zhou asked himself.
"He Zhou, what kind of movies do you like to watch?" Qiu Yanzhi kissed him on the cheek, smiling brightly.
He Zhou was quiet for a moment. Then he turned around and wrapped his arms around Qiu Yanzhi's waist. Looking down, he gave him a peck on the lips. “Whatever you like is fine.”
He didn’t want to.
He wouldn’t let go.
Unless Qin He came out of the woodwork, he’ll hold on until his last breath.
When it came to Qiu Yanzhi, he, He Zhou, had long lost any hint of self-respect.
Qiu Yanzhi sensed something off about He Zhou, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Ahem. Well, it’s just that He Zhou’s been rather...sticky as of late.
As the sole breadwinner, Qiu Yanzhi had to go to work to earn money.
But everytime he left, He Zhou stared at him like a big dog being abandoned by his master.
It made Qiu Yanzhi’s heart ache. He wanted nothing more than to pick up the phone and tell his workplace that Laozi wasn’t coming in today.
However, his rational side won out in the end.
He rushed over and hugged He Zhou, kissing the man again and again until his lips were almost raw before reluctantly letting go. Only after reminding He Zhou to practise his rehab exercises at home did Qiu Yanzhi open the door and leave.
He Zhou’s recovery has been progressing smoothly lately.
When Qiu Yanzhi came back, he found the wheelchair sitting empty to one side. He could also hear the sound of utensils being used in the kitchen.
Qiu Yanzhi's heart skipped a beat.
--Is He Zhou actually cooking?!
Qiu Yanzhi closed the door and went to the kitchen.
Sure enough, He Zhou was busy chopping vegetables with a frown.
Don’t do this, dude! You’re not cut out for being a chef!
Before Qiu Yanzhi could say anything, He Zhou slid the chopped vegetables into the frying pan.
There was a sharp crackling sound from the frying pan halfway through.
Even He Zhou jolted.
But Qiu Yanzhi’s sharp eyes noticed how one of the man’s left fingers curled up violently.
He definitely got splashed by the oil.
Qiu Yanzhi’s heart ached. He walked over to He Zhou’s side.
He Zhou was a bit surprised to see Qiu Yanzhi. "Qiu Yanzhi, why are you back already?"
"I got off work early today." Qiu Yanzhi said as he pulled He Zhou away from the stove and turned the gas off.
Then Qiu Yanzhi took He Zhou's hand and examined it. Sure enough, small red blisters had appeared on the skin.
Qiu Yanzhi pulled He Zhou over to the sink and put his hand under cold water. He was frowning, his expression filled with worry. "Why did you suddenly want to cook?"
He Zhou: "You've been working all day. You’ll be exhausted if you have to come home and cook too.”
Qiu Yanzhi looked up at that. He opened his mouth to say something, but ended up just sighing helplessly. "Does it hurt?"
He Zhou shook his head and smiled. "No."
Qiu Yanzhi gave him a look, grumbling, “Well it should. I’ve been burned before, you know!”
He Zhou: “Really?”
Qiu Yanzhi: “Of course, but only when I was a kid. I’m not that dumb anymore.”
He Zhou wasn’t burned very severely. Qiu Yanzhi had him put his hand in running water for about 15 minutes before pulling the man out of the kitchen. Retrieving the first aid kit, Qiu Yanzhi carefully applied ointment to the wound.
He Zhou really didn’t feel pain from his hand. Instead, it was his heart that started to itch.
So he leaned over and kissed Qiu Yanzhi on the lips.
Their breaths mingled together. He Zhou’s kissing skills showed improvement. A single kiss from him was enough to make the corners of Qiu Yanzhi’s eyes redden.
Qiu Yanzhi felt that things might go too far if they continued, so he pushed on He Zhou’s chest. His voice was a bit breathy: "He Zhou..."
He Zhou leaned over to Qiu Yanzhi’s ear and whispered, “I’ve almost recovered, Qiu Yanzhi. It’s okay to be a beast for a bit.”
Qiu Yanzhi's ears flushed scarlet.
“You, you heard what I...last night??”
He Zhou's voice was vaguely tinged with laughter, which only made Qiu Yanzhi’s ears heat up. “En. I heard a certain someone mumbling under their breath, saying how he couldn’t be too beastly.”
The temperature of Qiu Yanzhi’s entire face rose with that.
The two soon moved their activities to the bedroom.
Perhaps it’s because he finally confirmed his feelings for He Zhou, or because this was his first time outside of the game, but...
Qiu Yanzhi was a little nervous.
Sensing this, He Zhou leaned over to kiss his eyelashes. “You can close your eyes if you’re scared.”
Qiu Yanzhi shook his head and whispered, "I want to see you."
He Zhou's eyes darkened.
He didn’t set Qiu Yanzhi’s tie aside once he untied it, instead wrapping it around Qiu Yanzhi’s eyes.
Qiu Yanzhi was a bit caught off guard. "He, He Zhou?"
He Zhou very gently secured the tie in place. Then he quietly asked, "Qiu Yanzhi, who am I?"
Very satisfied, He Zhou finally leaned over and kissed him.
When Qiu Yanzhi woke up the next day, his throat was hoarse beyond belief.
...Yesterday, someone surnamed He seemed to lose his mind. Not only did he blindfold Qiu Yanzhi, he also forced Qiu Yanzhi to scream his name like a lunatic.
Just the thought made Qiu Yanzhi viciously punch the man lying next to him.
Alas, his limbs were all the consistency of jello.
Even a punch was reduced to nothing more than a caress.
He Zhou took Qiu Yanzhi into his arms and gently kissed his eyes.
And that was enough to make all the fight go out of Qiu Yanzhi.
He closed his eyes again and curled up lazily against He Zhou.
“You might be late for work.” He Zhou muttered somewhat guiltily.
Qiu Yanzhi’s eyes snapped open as adrenaline flooded his body. He got up and scrambled to put on the clothes laid out nearby.
However, he suddenly remembered something halfway through. Letting out a sigh of relief, he took off the clothes he just threw on again and burrowed his way back into He Zhou's arms.
Qiu Yanzhi's voice was hoarse and lazy. "I'm not working today."
He Zhou was a bit happy to hear that. He hugged Qiu Yanzhi and peppered him with kisses.
Qiu Yanzhi: "By the way, I got a new job. I have to leave for a work trip tomorrow.”
He Zhou asked, "Where to?"
Qiu Yanzhi nuzzled He Zhou's chest, reluctantly answering, "Berlin."
He Zhou frowned. "How long are you going to be gone?"
He Zhou was quiet for a while. He slowly slipped his fingers into Qiu Yanzhi’s hair and quietly said, "I'll miss you a lot."
Qiu Yanzhi blinked. Then he blushed and whispered, “Me too."
The admission made He Zhou lean over and press a kiss to his temple.
Qiu Yanzhi suddenly thought of something else. "Since I'm be gone on a business trip tomorrow, let's go on a date today."
He pursed his lips. "I don't think we've had an official date yet."
"Okay." He Zhou said, "Do you want to get up right now?"
Qiu Yanzhi thought for a moment before laying his head on He Zhou’s arm, lazily drawling, “I don’t wanna move yet. Maybe later.”
‘Later’ ended up being two in the afternoon.
Qiu Yanzhi and He Zhou kept things simple and realistic. Like normal couples, they went out to eat, see a movie and visit an amusement park.
Reason number one was because both of them were still recovering. Activities that were too strenuous were off the table.
Reason number two was a lack of time to prepare.
And the final one was that they were broke. There was just no money to go do something extravagant.
However, Qiu Yanzhi believed that anywhere would be fun if He Zhou was there with him.
Except for the haunted house that he foolishly ventured into.
Actually, Qiu Yanzhi’s always wanted to visit a haunted house. It’s just that he didn’t have the courage to go in alone.
He only steeled himself and headed inside one because He Zhou was with him.
But before long, Qiu Yanzhi was too scared to even open his eyes. He became completely reliant on He Zhou pulling him forward.
Technically, Qiu Yanzhi could’ve kept his eyes closed the whole time and he would’ve been fine. Alas, he let down his guard near the exit.
The moment he opened his eyes, a red-tongued, green-eyed female ghost jumped out in front of him.
Even if He Zhou reacted lightning quick and brought Qiu Yanzhi into his arms…
Qiu Yanzhi was still deeply traumatised by the jumpscare.
His legs were like jelly walking out of the haunted house. It was to the point where he had to sit on a nearby bench and tell He Zhou to go buy him some ice cream.
While resting on the bench, Qiu Yanzhi played games on his phone with his head down.
But before he even finished one round, he noticed someone’s shadow in front of him.
Is He Zhou back already?
Qiu Yanzhi looked up happily. "He..."
A man dressed in a dark, high-class suit stood before him.
His bangs were combed up to reveal a smooth, clean forehead. The slight pallor to his skin only highlighted his knife-sharp gaze.
However, the most damning thing of all was--
His face looked exactly like He Zhou’s.
"Long time no see, Xia Yuan."
The man smiled.
Oh shit waddup Qin He (?). He Zhou straight up jinxed himself earlier lol.